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Cannabis Trimmer Spotlight: How to Trim Cannabis

Trimming cannabis

One of the most popular entry-level cannabis jobs is that of the trimmer. It’s a job with many names, including manicuring technician and cultivation technician. Whatever the position is titled, it’s an important role in the modern cannabis industry. Although some cannabis trimmer positions do not require any experience, it’s always beneficial to learn as much about the job as you can. Therefore, we put together a guide on how to trim cannabis plants and asked a former trimmer for tips about the position. 

The cannabis trimmer position has become a year-round job for thousands of cannabis lovers and is no longer limited to harvest season. Many cultivation experts agree that the human touch is ideal to prepare harvested cannabis plant bud for consumers. It may seem like an easy role, but to be proficient, you have to break down the fine details. And remember, a cannabis trimmer temp job can be a springboard to higher-paying positions in the cannabis cultivation sector. 

Cannabis trim leaf

Why Trim Cannabis?

When cannabis plants grow, trimming is essential. Trimming cannabis will make the product more aesthetically pleasing, but there’s more to it. By bucking the cannabis plant bud and removing leaves, you’ll make parts of the nug with more trichomes more accessible. Additionally, by removing fan and sugar leaves, you’re getting rid of the parts that would cause harsh smoke. The foliage doesn’t wick away moisture too well. Furthermore, trimming cannabis is essential to the curing process. Curing–or slowly removing moisture from the bud–plays a part in enhancing the smoking experience. Lastly, trimmed bud tends to produce a stronger marijuana aroma, which may influence a purchase. 

Cannabis best time to trim

When is a Good Time to Trim Cannabis?

When it comes to trimming cannabis plants, you can either do it before or after drying. Growers use both methods, so there isn’t a right or wrong way. Cultivation specialists who prefer a wet trim are dealing with high humidity, are concerned about mold, and want the cannabis bud to dry at a quicker rate. Those who use a dry trim are dealing with low humidity, want the bud to dry slower, and are looking for the bud to be denser or tighter. So it depends on the grower’s preferences. As a cannabis trimmer, your job is to be comfortable with both wet and dry trims. 

Cannabis Trimming Gear

Cannabis Trimming Gear

Scissors: You’ll be using a pair of scissors to get the job done. There are several scissor types a cannabis trimmer should be familiar with, but the most common are Fiskars scissors. Fiskars scissors are thin, sharp, and utilize a spring to open up automatically after each snip.

Gloves: As a cannabis trimmer, you’ll get a pair of disposable gloves or gardening gloves. Gloves will keep the resin off your hands, keeping them fresh. Additionally, they will keep hand particles off the cannabis plant. 

Containers: To keep the marijuana organized, you’ll use four containers. Typically, cannabis trimmers will use cookie sheets to separate trimmed cannabis, untrimmed cannabis, and trim. And you can use a fourth sheet to place the leaves that contain little to no trichomes. 

Oil: Oil is a necessity in cannabis trimming to keep your shears operable and efficient. When it comes to natural oil options that will benefit the scissors and your skin, grape seed oil and olive oil are ideal. 

Trim Cannabis Plants by Hand

How to Trim Cannabis Plants by Hand 

1. Remove the Stalk and Branches

First, you’ll take your scissors and cut the main stalk. After cutting the main stalk, you’ll cut off the branches of the marijuana plant. If the cultivation master grower is set on dry trimming, you’ll hang the plant for drying at this point. Drying the marijuana plant may take up to a week long. However, if the master grower is fine with wet trimming, you’ll continue with step 2 of this hand-trimming process.

2. Remove the Leaves

When you think of cannabis, you think of the legendary five-leaf plant. As a cannabis trimmer, you’ll be removing those famous fan leaves. The leaves of the cannabis plant do not have any trichomes. And trichomes are the hair-like parts of the cannabis plant that contain the THC that gives users a euphoric, “high” feeling. If you’re dry trimming, use your scissors. However, if you’re wet trimming, you can pull off the leaves quickly with your hands. 

3. Bucking

After you’ve removed the leaves from the plant, you’ll start bucking it. Bucking is simply cutting off the bud from the branch of the plant. Use a tray or bowl to place the bud on. You may also be asked to keep a separate tray or bowl for leaves, stems, and branches to compost later. 

4. Trimming

Now you’re ready to trim the cannabis plants. Trim the stem cleanly at the bottom without breaking the bud–the stem should only show at the bottom. Also, you want to trim the bud to the desired size–ask a supervisor if they haven’t specified a size. Typically, you do not want any cannabis bud to be huge, as they won’t dry properly, leaving them more receptive to mold. Snip away the branches stemming from the bottom and manicure the bud. Get rid of parts that contain no trichomes. You may leave the red pistils there for aesthetics if you’re instructed to, but they have little to no trichomes. Remember to keep the trimmed bud on a separate tray. 

Trimming cannabis with a Machine

Trimming with a Machine

In this day and age, advancements in technology have made things easier for the most part during harvest season. With the demand for cannabis rising, trimming with a machine has become a promising option for some large-scale growers who produce for the lower end of the cannabis market. A high-end heavy-duty cannabis trim machine can trim up to 20lbs of cannabis every hour. For cannabis growers, this option is efficient and saves tons of time. However, cannabis trimmer machines can over-trim, getting rid of plenty of precious trichomes, and stems and seeds may get into the finished product. When it comes to trimming, you can’t beat the quality of a cannabis trimmer’s careful hands. 

Cannabis trimmer

Q&A with a Former Cannabis Trimmer 

How did you get into trimming cannabis?

A friend of mine had a traditional farm in Santa Cruz and offered me the opportunity to help the operations in various ways. About 30 people lived on the farm (camping style) for a harvest season from August to November and this is where I learned about the cannabis business. I was tasked with de-leafing mother plants, hanging, bucking, and trimming.   

What are the main duties of a cannabis trimmer?

The main duties of a trimmer are to cut the leaves and stems off the branch and then trim down each nug, ensuring leaves are not sticking out of the bud. It takes a highly focused individual to ensure not too much or too little is trimmed off the bud, and no leaves or stems are left on the nug. Trimmers also have to check for mold and make sure they cut it off the cannabis flowers.

What skills help in taking on a cannabis trimmer position?

Fine motor skills and soft skills like patience are important character traits to be a successful trimmer. Fine motor skills allow scissors to cut with accuracy and efficiency, and soft skills like patience, determination, and passion for the cannabis plant are important to retain a position as a trimmer.

What important advice would you give cannabis trimmers for harvest season?

Understanding the fundamentals of the plant and how to trim according to the strain is very important. Having a sense of pride and passion for being a trimmer is also important as that passion helps one gain strong momentum and rhythm to trim at a quick pace.

What other roles can experience as a cannabis trimmer lead to?

There are many opportunities for trimmers to advance their careers – processing managers, cultivation technicians, QC manager, IPM specialists, etc. Exemplifying the traits of a good trimmer can open many doors in the cannabis industry. It’s all about patience and persistence!

Want to learn more about the cannabis trimmer position? Download our new 2022 salary guide for the latest information on cannabis trimmer salaries, hiring trends, job growth, and more!

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